Being four floors up a converted Victorian warehouse means, with the exception of the occasional determined housefly or misguided bee, we’re rarely troubled by high-flying bugs. But the other day a lone mosquito came into land just inches from my line of sight. We eyed each other up for while to see who would blink first. The feeble little Brit-bug had no idea who he was dealing with. During our Turkish days, squadrons of stealthy mozzies dive-bombed dinner parties and bled us dry during our sleep. But gradually over four years, our leathery old hides developed welt-resisting immunity. The ugly sucker staring back at me was no match for its voracious Aegean cousins. So I extended my arm and said,
Go on then, suck it and see.
Now bug off.
You know you’re getting long in the tooth when you’re regularly called in by the quack to check for a pulse. The latest invitation dropping onto the mat was for bowel cancer screening. Apparently, there’s a national programme to screen everyone over the age of 55. My invitation came with an evening appointment and a handy little leaflet written in plain English even I can understand.
Of course, I’m ever grateful my inescapable slide towards the slab is being carefully monitored by the white coat crew. I strongly suspect, however, they’d be less conscientious if I fessed up to my persistent alcohol dependency.
I won’t go into the precise nature of the procedure I’m about to endure. Suffice it to say, it’ll be a pain in the arse.
My fifties are my contented years. Happy in life and at home, my banner waving days are behind me and I’m resigned to the advent of liver spots and erectile dysfunction disguised by the haze of creeping alcohol dependence. Apparently, there is a growing national problem with over-drinking by older people, or so say the health police. I’d say that’s the least of our worries. The real issue is the shrinking band of underpaid carers struggling to cope with a growing grey herd put out to pasture. Now, that’s something to leave a nasty taste in the mouth. I might just have to drink through the whole crisis.
One of the least attractive aspects of growing old is daily moulting – and not just from the head. To be frank, I’ve always kept my borders well manicured but hardly a day goes by without the bathroom being overwhelmed by tumbleweeds of short and curlies drifting around the floor. So, I’ve invested in a nifty little hand-held vacuum cleaner to suck up the hairy debris. It makes short work of the problem though I do have to get down on my knees to do the job. Let’s face it. One day I won’t be able to get back up again.
In the meantime, make mine a large one.
We all know Christmas is big for business so Christmas ads must be big too. John Lewis, that bellwether of the British high street, usually leads the pack. Its lavish TV offerings rarely fail to tug at the heart strings or loosen the purse, and this year is no different with a theme centred round the loneliness of old age. Like I need reminding that, childless as we are, our incontinent years might be a little bit crap. John Lewis has been criticised for spending so much on a TV campaign when they could have donated to charity instead. I’m all for bashing the corporate world for not paying their dues and not doing their bit. But in this case, the reproach is a tad misplaced. The campaign is supported by Age UK and has resulted in thousands of extra volunteers for the festive period. Besides, it’s our collective responsibility to care for the vulnerable, not a shop’s.
We also know Christmas is all about over-excited kids brainwashed into wanting bigger and better, faster and flashier. It’s all down to cynical marketing and playground peer pressure: pester-power is the biggest bang in the advertiser’s armoury. Or is it? Grab a tissue and watch this clever message from IKEA Spain. It had me in floods.
The moral of my story? Spend more time with your kids and spare a thought for the two old fairies at the bottom of the garden.
With thanks to John Lennon for the title of this post.
It was my birthday recently. I reached the grand old age of 55. I now qualify for Gestapo-controlled sheltered housing, all wipe-down high-back chairs and swirly carpets that stick to the soles of your shoes. En-suite facilities are now essential for those caught short at 3am moments (so much better than a bucket by the side of the bed). Just how did this happen? I remember the days of my deliciously misspent youth when summers of love seemed endless. Now an entire year passes by in a flash and I barely notice. Welcome to the epoch of Mr Grumpy.
I received a birthday card from my sister in law. Maybe she’s trying to tell me something?
To (badly) quote the glorious Victoria Wood, you know you’re getting old when you walk past a shop window displaying a pair of Scholl sandals and think to yourself Ooh, they look comfy. I had a similar revelation when I was thumbing through an Independent on Sunday glossy supplement and came across an advert for flatulence filtering underwear called Shreddies. And there was me thinking breakfast cereal made from wholegrain wheat. But then too much bran can brew a lusty whiff, so perhaps that’s the association. And while we’re on the subject of our grey days, why are the models advertising a product obviously targeted at the winking-sphincter brigade, young and lithe with rings of steel?
I suppose it was inevitable. First we had the ‘marriages’ swiftly followed by the ‘divorces’. I was recently catching up on Faceache and up popped an advert for civil partnership divorce on my side bar. Far be it for me to suggest that unhappy couples should stay together for the sake of the overpriced loft conversion or to save the breakup of the matching Louis Vuitton luggage set. Divorce is a fact of modern life (though I read rates are dropping as couples marry later and stay together longer). Over the last century, falling mortality rates have completely altered the concept of ‘til death us do part. In 1912, life expectancy for men was only around 52 and for women, around 55. Even though women could expect to live a little longer, some still died in child birth and second marriages for widowers were usual. Today, life expectancy has soared to 78 for men and 83 for women. Saying ‘I do’ at 23 and still feeling the love 60 years later? What are the odds? Or am I being a tad cynical?
Back to the advert. As Faceache knows everything there is to know about my vices and habits, from my inside leg measurement (barely functioning) and taste in men (breathing) to my favourite fragrance (Charlie) and my tipple of choice (meths), I assume they match their ads to my consumer profile. Is there something I’m not being told?